The sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants will be prohibited in Harju and several counties in southeastern Estonia to limit the spread of coronavirus on the order of the Police and Border Guard board (PPA). Restrictions will remain in place in Tartu.
The restrictions will be in place in Harju County from Saturday, August 29 and from Monday, August 31 in Põlva, Valga and Võru counties between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
By an order of the head of the North Prefecture of the PPA the retail sale of alcoholic beverages in Harju County will be forbidden. The ban will be in effect until further notice.
According to a tentative estimate, it should be a short-term ban and the duration depends largely on the attitudes of people, their behavior and willingness to abidance by the dispersion requirement.
The PPA and the Health Board (Terviseamet) will assess the necessity of the restriction once a week.
Head of the North Prefecture Kristian Jaani said: "According to the Health Board, Tallinn is the highest risk area in Estonia when it comes to population numbers and the density of population. As at Friday, there were 61 active cases of the infection in Harju County, according to the Health Board, and according to their estimate some of the infected people in Harju County have contracted the infection immediately or by means of transmission from recreational establishments where alcohol is consumed."
Jaani said alcohol deprives people of the usual sense of danger, as people no longer keep a distance from one another and speak in a loud voice close to each other, which makes transmission of the infection very likely.
Head of the South Prefecture Vallo Koppel said since students from many regions where the epidemiological situation has worsened will arrive in Tartu County at the beginning of the new academic year, the restriction on nighttime alcohol sales imposed on August 7 can not be lifted.
He said that the sales restriction will be left in force for the time being, with the situation to be assessed again with the Health Board next Friday at the latest.
Koppel said: "In addition, thousands of people are expected in Tartu County and southeastern Estonia next week in connection with the rally, who also will arrive here from various regions where the infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants is high. To protect the health of the participants, the organizers, the spectators and local residents, and to prevent the spread of the virus, we will impose a prohibition on the nighttime sales of alcohol also in Polva, Voru and Valga counties from Monday, August 31."
The restriction concerning southeastern Estonia is valid from August 31 until the morning of September 7.
An alcohol sales ban is also in place in Ida-Viru County after an outbreak which has seen more than 70 people infected started in a bar in the town of Jõhvi.
A recent outbreak in Tartu was also spread by visitors and staff in clubs and bars around the city.
Editor: Helen Wright